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Cebu News

But teachers, students urged to get vaxxed vs COVID-19: Jab not condition for F2F classes

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Department of Education - 7 (DepEd-7) has reiterated that vaccination against COVID-19 is not a prerequisite for enrollment or attendance in campus as schools return to face-to-face classes for a new school-year.

DepEd-7 Director Salustiano Jimenez said, nonetheless, that students and teachers are encouraged strongly to get the vaccine for their own protection.

Jimenez said DepEd continues with its information drive to make the public understand the importance of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Recently, the Department of Health (DOH) noted an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country spurred by the highly transmissible Omicron subvariants.

In DepEd’s latest data as of August 5, more than 1.2M students are enrolled in kindergarten, elementary, junior, and senior high school in Central Visayas.

Recently, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. underscored the importance of getting booster shots against COVID-19, particularly among students, as they prepare for in-person classes. An estimated 15.2 million students are expected to return to school as the new school-year opens.

"Hindi man ito ganoon ka simple pero kapag tama ang paghahanda ay siguradong magiging matagumpay ito. Una na riyan 'yung panigurong nakapag-booster shot na ang lahat, lalong-lalo na ang ating mga kabataan para talagang handa ang pangangatawan nila sa pagbabalik eskwela," Marcos said in his latest weekly vlog.

Marcos said about 15.9 million Filipinos have received the first booster shot but only 1.2 million have received a second booster, so far. 

"Hindi pa ito magandang numero kumpara sa target natin na 100 percent," he said.

With that in mind, the president has called on the cooperation of the local government units to intensify the campaign for booster shots.

Vaxx Campaign

The Department of Health (DOH), for its part, has committed to intensifying its vaccination efforts and vaccine storage management to reach the Marcos administration’s target of vaccinating 70 percent of the 78,100,578 Filipinos under the PinasLakas campaign.

In a statement, DOH said this is in addition to providing first booster shots to 50 percent of those eligible or 39,050,289 Filipinos.

Insofar as younger citizens are concerned, DOH said more than 9.7 million Filipino adolescents along with more than 4.2 million Filipino children have already been fully-vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The DOH will be closely working with the country’s LGUs to ensure all school-aged children will have access to the additional doses donated by the United States government,” it said.

“We’ve come a long way from when this virus first hit our shores. With all the tools and resources we now have, we are capable of protecting our children and providing them the safe and much-needed face to face education that they deserve,” said DOH OIC Maria Rosario Vergeire.

She added that the department will continue to collaborate with their partners actively to ensure that all communities are safe.

As part of PinasLakas campaign, schools, malls, plazas, and places of worship are to be turned into vaccination sites where people can avail of the life-saving vaccines.

Donation

Meanwhile, the United States recently boosted the country’s national COVID-19 response through donations of health equipment and logistics kits.

These include 18,000 rapid antigen and other test kits, and more than 100 WASH kits for schools and the Manila City Health Department.

The U.S. also provided TaqPath COVID testing reagents for the Philippine Genome Center, which allows for 10,000 more tests. Also handed over to the Government of the Philippines (GPH) were an assortment of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and many others.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in support of the Philippines’ PinasLakas vaccination and booster campaign, initiated a pediatric vaccination activity with handover of COVID-19 aid and logistical equipment last August 6, 2022 at the historic Manila Zoo.

Present in the event were U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. MaryKay Carlson, Vergeire, and Manila City Mayor Dr. Honey Lacuna. They, along with other senior health and local officials, witnessed the latest of the USG’s donations to support the country’s COVID-19 prevention and control efforts since 2020.

“Working with the international community has helped keep Filipinos and Philippines health systems at low risk through the worst parts of this pandemic,” Vergeire said.

“As the Philippines continues to work to vaccinate people, to reduce the spread and save lives, my message is simple:  The United States is with you,” Blinken said.

“We will end this pandemic and emerge better prepared for future health crises by working together not only across governments, but across private sectors and across civil society,” Secretary Blinken added.

According to the US Embassy in Manila, the United States has donated more than 33 million life-saving vaccine doses to the Philippines, consisting of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J platforms. – Darlene Joy N. Gil, CNU Intern, JMO (FREEMAN)

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